Conserving habitat at Ottawa's Carp Hills—Ducks Unlimited Canada Skip to main content

Ottawa's Carp Hills

An ecological jewel in the backyard of the nation’s capital

In 2018, DUC acquired a 440-acre (178 hectare) property in the Carp Hills, where the natural values of the beautiful landscape are under pressure from growing communities all around it. In fact, the number of homes in the Carp Hills area has more than doubled in the past 25 years.

The Carp Hills are among the largest undeveloped natural spaces within the City of Ottawa. The Hills cover nearly 10,000 acres (4,047 hectares) of rocky barrens, forests and shallow wetlands.

They’re home to hundreds of species of wildlife, including rare and at-risk plants and animals. But, as the Hills become more popular with nature seekers and housing developments balloon around their perimeter, their sensitive habitat is at risk.

The first step in protecting the area is understanding its value.


Summer waters in the Carp Hills
Summer waters in the Carp Hills © Anne Wong

The Carp Hills property’s many significant natural features include fragile wetland and forest plant communities which can be damaged unintentionally by hikers and cyclists. Wildlife species at risk have been documented on the property, including rare turtles and birds.

Friends of the Carp Hills

Visitors may encounter volunteers from the Friends of the Carp Hills, a group of local naturalists who support DUC’s commitment to preserve the property’s natural features by marking and caring for trails and other environmental stewardship activities.

Hiking trail: The DUC property is adjacent to the Crazy Horse trail used for hiking, skiing and snowshoeing by many residents in the area. An existing trail loop accesses part of DUC’s property, connecting to the Crazy Horse trail.

DUC asks that only pedestrians use the trail and follow these guidelines:

  • Protect the rare habitat by staying on the trail
  • Keep dogs on a leash
  • No bicycles or motorized vehicles
  • Do not camp or light campfires
  • Clean boots at the trailhead to remove any invasive plants and seeds

Fall hunting: There are limited hunting opportunities on the property and permission must be arranged through DUC. Please contact the Ontario offices: +1 705-721-4444

Snowmobile trail: An existing snowmobile trail traverses the property as part of the larger Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs trail system. DUC has an agreement with the West Carleton Snowmobile Trails Association to allow continued use for winter access that is not destructive to the property’s natural features. The trail is closed in all other seasons and is not open to ATVs or other use.

CONSERVATION IN ALL SEASONS Wetlands, forests and rock barrens in the Carp Hills support a range of wildlife throughout the year including waterfowl and other birds, turtles and mammals.
© Anne Wong

DUC is committed to management of the Carp Hills property that will protect the fragile habitats and wildlife who rely on them to survive.

Carp Hills Management Plan (2019-2023)

In 2019, DUC, the City of Ottawa and the Friends of the Carp Hills collaborated on a five (5) year management plan (available on request).

The management plan builds on a life science inventory that was conducted in 2018 and allows limited and low-impact public use of the property, as long as the activities do not impact the natural features and values of the property.

Our thanks are due to the City of Ottawa, Holly Bickerton, Friends of the Carp Hills and the West Carleton Snowmobile Trails Association who took the time to collaborate on this work with us.


Carp Hills Environment Report (2018)

A life science inventory was commissioned by DUC to identify the flora and fauna on the property as well as unique and sensitive features. The report provided guidance for the development of the management plan for the property.

From June to September 2018, ecologist Holly Bickerton explored DUC’s property in the Carp Hills with help from citizen scientists with the Friends of the Carp Hills. She carefully studied how plants, animals and people use the area and what she found was a rare and exceptional piece of nature worthy of special care and attention.

Key features and benefits

Size and scale: The DUC property is part of the larger Carp Hills landscape that covers nearly 10,000 acres (4,0447 hectares). Together, the Hills are a significant natural space within an urban environment.

Wildlife habitat: A host of wildlife frequent the area including ducks, geese, songbirds, turtles, fishers and black bears.

Species at risk: Up to nine species at risk were documented, including the Midland painted turtle, Blanding’s turtle and wood thrush.

Floral diversity: 297 native plants were documented, including one provincially significant and 15 regionally significant species.


Protect undisturbed habitat: Ensuring the property’s wetlands and rock barrens remain intact is essential to the future of wildlife and species at risk.


    • Limited and low-impact public use of the property is permitted

Evaluate trails and access: Determining the best ways for people to enjoy DUC’s property in the Carp Hills will involve clear marking and trail maintenance.


    • Pedestrian-access gate installation at snowmobile trail access points
    • Trail signage installation at each access point
    • Friends of the Carp Hills assists in trail management

Clean up: If it’s not native to the area, it doesn’t belong. Taking steps to eradicate invasive species and clean the area of garbage, debris and other waste will keep the Carp Hills wild and pristine.


    • Friends of the Carp Hills assists in property care by identifying and communicating problems to DUC
    • Removal of accumulated garden debris from adjacent activities
    • Removal of non-native invasive plants that can displace native species (i.e., goutweed, garlic mustard)


The Great Ottawa Outdoors Just Got Better

The Great Ottawa Outdoors Just Got Better

The power of partnership to shape a natural corridor for wildlife and people

Protecting Ottawa’s wildest landscape

Protecting Ottawa’s wildest landscape

Forty kilometres from Parliament Hill with waterfowl, turtles and other wildlife

A butterfly in winter

A butterfly in winter

A remarkable find on a DUC property in the Carp Hills of Ontario

Father and son team up to clean up Ottawa Wetland Centre of Excellence

Father and son team up to clean up Ottawa Wetland Centre of Excellence

Wetland Hero volunteers to clean and document nest boxes during the pandemic

Your DUC membership is an investment in Canada’s wildlife.

An ecological jewel in the backyard of the nation’s capital